I am continually fascinated by what is now an industry onto itself with Thomas Nelson’s Biblezines. Biblezines are more or less what they sound like: bibles (usually the New Testament) packaged in a glossy magazine format filled with full color photos, quizzes, advice columns, you name it, all corresponding to whatever versus and/or story that falls on its pages.
They are packaged so well and look so much like a teen magazine that if they were around when I was a kid, I might’ve actually read the Bible. Which is exactly the point, of course. Biblezines get people, especially teens, reading the New Testament.
One of the things that have always bothered me about the Biblezines (oh let me count the things that bother me…)is how they tend to ignore ethnic diversity. In its initial format, Revolve, the very first Biblezine, has a cover photo of three beautiful, smiling, white teens on its cover. Almost all the Biblezines have white teens, middle school students, or twenty-something women and men on their covers.
I recently became aware of Real, which has a cover that is as diverse as anything I’ve seen. Here’s its description:
“The diverse Hip Hop culture has its own music, its own fashion sense, and its own language. Now it also has its own connection to the timeless truths of the New Testament. Presenting REAL, the one BibleZineTM designed and written especially for this vibrant urban crowd. REAL represents a major opportunity to satisfy souls with God’s Word.”
While I find the existence of “Real” interesting–like all the other Biblezines, you can’t deny its creative format for delivering the Bible–it feels odd that Thomas Nelson has crowded all its “diversity” into a hip hop bible. Why is this? Does it somehow imply that if you are not white, you are therefore “urban” and “hip hop”? Granted, if you page through Revolve, Refuel, Becoming, and Align (among others), you will occasionally come upon a photograph of someone who is not white. But very rarely.
Just food for thought about Thomas Nelson’s ever-expanding Biblezine’s industry.